So, What's The Issue In A Nutshell?
Having a safe and healthy environment to live in is one of the most fundamental parts of our human rights. Therefore, it’s paramount we protect it. A lot of the environmental regulations which provide these safeguards come from the European Union, who set strict targets on things like clean air, recycling, and green energy. Without these in place, there are worries the country could slide backward on our green credentials. It’s estimated some 80 percent of our environmental laws come from the EU, so the scale of the problem is huge.
Right, What Are The UK Saying About It?
As with everything about Brexit, nothing here is clear cut. The Green Party’s Caroline Lucas has blasted other parties for seeming to ignore the issue completely, though Environment Secretary Michael Gove has promised a “green Brexit”. However, he does say the break presents an opportunity to “review” current legislation, which has left many environmental groups worried. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has also raised his concerns, asking for assurances air pollution targets will be strengthened instead of watered down. Theresa May has previously made clear the European Courts will have no jurisdiction in the UK after we leave though, meaning there’d currently be no one to hold us to task for missing targets.
And The EU? What Do They Think?
A healthy environment is something which affects us all, so the EU will be keen for the UK to keep up the standards it’s set, what’s more, pollution can easily cross borders. On a more practical level though, there are other targets at stake. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme, for example, which aims to cut back on carbon emissions by businesses could find its targets impossible to meet without Britain – one of the largest players in the scheme. However, there are concerns that the legal complexity of finding a way to bring such complex regulations into UK law, could, in reality, mean things get watered down.
Where Have We Got So Far?
In the grand scheme of things, we’re still at the very beginning of the negotiations in terms of the environment. Despite Gove’s pledge, we’re yet to see any firm details on what the UK’s plans for the environment are, so it will be a case of keeping a keen eye on the detail. There are already a group of UK lawyers on the case, who have pledged to make sure the Government does not backtrack.